Murder Rate Mysteriously Drops in San Francisco

Mayor, police chief take credit, but trend defies explanation

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    George Gascon just took office in the middle of the year, but is already saying his policies have led to the surprising drop in homicide rates.

    San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom tweeted excitedly that the homicide rate in San Francisco in 2009 is the lowest it has been since 1961 -- with only 45 murders in the city.

    Newsom and San Francisco Police Department Chief George Gascon were quick to point to their contributions -- Gascon citing increased policing in areas like the Bayview and Hunters Point.

    And, thanks to fewer homicides, the SFPD has manage to improve its clearance rate, closing 70 percent of cases, double the number from the last two years.

    But New York City has been using "zone policing" for a decade, and also had a record-low muder rate this year, suggesting that people in American cities are just a little less blood thirsty than usual. So what might the real reasons be?

    • Most everyone has had trouble making ends meet of late, and have you seen the price of ammunition these days?
    • Recent reports show drugs like cocaine being cut with animal deworming medication, possibly making heavy users sick. And a sick cokehead is a less twitchy, stabby cokehead.
    • With housing prices falling, you don't have to wait for someone to die -- or kill them yourself -- to find a relatively inexpensive apartment.
    • Like anything else, the murder business has been outsourced -- probably to Mexico, where a good hit man costs much less per hour than San Francisco's minimum wage.
    • Everyone with homicide expertise has been appointed by Newsom to blue-ribbon panels, taking them off the streets where they might have used their experience less constructively.
    • Homicidal killers, tired of the disposable culture of cheap and easymurder, have embraced a new "slow death" movement, killing less and focusing on quality, not quantity.
    • Thanks to Tom Ammiano's efforts to make Healthy San Francisco a reality, more people have coverage and are actually on their meds for a change.

    Jackson West feels as safe as ever, actually, and no thanks to anyone at City Hall.